With a total of 59 national parks in the United States, Alaska boasts a total of eight. With everything from crystal rivers and sky-scraping mountains,to magnificent glaciers, Alaska has the utmost unrivaled wilderness. Often put off by its isolation from the contiguous United States, the 49th state is nothing but unspoiled. With so many options and places to visit, the choices can be overwhelming. During the winter season, Alaska’s parks feature a whole different level of elegance. Touting an insane variety of beauty, check out the top 5 Alaskan national parks to visit in the wintertime.
1. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Possibly the most beautiful of them all, this national park is the largest in the nation. Sizing up at 13.2 million acres, the park is larger than Switzerland itself. It also boasts the second largest mountain in all the US and Canada. Mount St. Elias towers above Alaska at 18,000 feet. In its diversity, it contains habitats ranging from ice-cold tundra to temperate rainforest, all the while hosting a wide range of animals. Road trip over to Mt. Wrangell, and at 14,000 feet, you can witness one of the largest active volcanoes in all the US. If you can afford it, booking an air tour with Wrangell Mountain Air will be sure to help you soak up a whole other dimension of beauty this place has to offer. In its glorious isolation, the park brings a new sense of gratitude for the beautiful world that we’re privileged to live in.
2. Denali National Park and Preserve
Beating St. Elias by just 2,000 feet, the Denali mountain stands as North America’s highest peak at 20,000-feet. It’s no wonder this park is Alaska’s most popular and revered tourist spot. With over 400,000 visitors a year, the activities and adventure-filled opportunities here are endless. Explore the park from a bicycle, take a bus tour, or even step it up (literally) and walk the 90-mile Denali Park Road. Just keep in mind that the road is closed to private vehicles after the first 15 miles. A grizzly bear is a common sight at Denali Park, but don’t run for your life if you see one. This simply tempts the bear even more—and you definitely can’t outrun a bear! Don’t worry, though, as grizzlies aren’t generally interested in humans. Don’t forget your camera as there’ll be photo-ops that you certainly won’t want to miss.
3. Kenai Fjords National Park
Commonly known as “The Place of Ice and Water,” the Kenai Fjords National Park is a world of its own. Boasting glaciers and icy waters, the fjords are also home to seals, whales, and puffins in both coastal rainforests and isolated Alaskan islands. Better seen from a boat or kayak, the seascapes are simply spectacular. If you’re up for a tough hike, the four-mile climb to the top of the Harding Ice-field trail will captivate your senses like nothing before. For the full experience, book yourself a boat tour with a local company to get the most out of the natural beauty. Many luxury cruise ship tours offer lavish buffets, so make sure to indulge in some native Alaskan salmon. And every so often, you’re bound to spot whales, so keep your eyes and ears open!
4. Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
For camping enthusiasts, look no further than the Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. Spanning over four million acres, the park is home to tundra, mountains with expansive trails, superb fishing holes, tranquil campgrounds, and, of course, pristine lakes. It’s easily accessible from Anchorage and was made with the explorer in mind. Its namesake, Lake Clark, is a 40-mile, turquoise-infused body of water that’s just begging to be explored. The lake is surrounded by mountains, volcanoes, forest, meadows, sandy beaches, and even glaciers. Flying over the majestic landscape in a seaplane and kayaking its vast waters is a must. Forget a fancy hotel, as the best of this park is bound to be experienced from a tent and with some camping gear. As an article in the Huffington Post said, “it is the best of wild Alaska rolled into one fine park.” Surprisingly enough, it’s one of the nation’s least explored national parks due to its rugged terrain. Just another reason to go explore its grounds now!
5. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
A perfect image of wild America, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is a testament to the thriving biosphere—and what we still have of it. According to the National Park Service, “Glacier Bay’s wildness is remote, dynamic and intact.” It’s massive tidewater glaciers keep this national park a thriving place for both its wildlife and tourists alike. It’s home to the endangered humpback whale, orcas, harbor seals, sea otters, porpoises, and many more arctic sea creatures. On land, moose, mountain goats, bald eagles, and wolves inhabit the rich ecosystem that covers 2.7 million acres of Southern Alaska’s inside passage. Margerie Glacier, the park’s most well-known glacier, is almost 112,000 feet in length and 350 feet in thickness. It continues to grow almost 30 feet per year, and it constantly joins and separates from its sister, the Grand Pacific Glacier. Grab your camera, but leave your phone at home, so that you can enjoy all the natural beauty this icy location has to offer.
Many people try to escape the winter cold, but why not embrace it? Pack your bags and visit these five national parks in Alaska. With so much to explore and discover, you’re bound to appreciate the diversity that this giant state has to offer.
— Uncharted101.com (@Uncharted1o1) December 16, 2017
Micah Trostle is an 18-year- old photographer, videographer, and travel writer for trekbible. Although he was born in the USA, his home is Papua New Guinea, where he enjoys adventure sports, camping, and loving on people! He’s passionate about Papua New Guinea and hopes to move back in the near future to impact business development and help to expand communities.